By Olivia Kwitny
Stumbling upon a crevice in the mountain, where he can bury his scratched right hand, Roy Murdock ’11 uses every inch of muscle to swing himself onto the peak of the cliff. In a matter of seconds, all of the hard work of climbing the mountain becomes worth the 1.5 seconds of an adrenaline rush. Three, two, one — Murdock leaps off the cliff, and 30 feet later, plunges into the lake. Stroking his arms through the water, Murdock plops up alongside Raphael Osorio ’11 and Robert Vega ’11.
This last summer, the three campers spent three days at Lake Isabella, along with Murdock’s dog, Bigfoot.
“While we were sitting by the fire, I realized Bigfoot wasn’t around,” Murdock said. “When I turned to my left, Bigfoot had a diamondback viper in his mouth.”
When they weren’t cliff diving or night fishing, Murdock, Osorio and Vega restored their energy by eating pancakes and eggs for breakfast and freshly grilled burger patties, charcoaled hot dogs and smores for dinner.
“It’s a way of getting away from the routine city life, with everything meticulously planned,” Osorio said.
Inspired by the simple life, they decided to create a club “where the only thing you have to worry about is what you’re going to eat.”
“We want the members to experience nature—not just sit at home,” Vega said.
One hundred and seventy Facebook members and over 160 shirt orders later, The Country Gentlefolk Club, alongside its three co-founders, predicts increased activity during the second semester — camping out at school for a night, grill sessions during the school days and storm hunting with science teacher Dietrich Schuhl.
“We made this club because we felt Harvard-Westlake lacked a natural and wild experience,” Murdock said.
The Country Gentlefolk Club has started planning small hikes with Haley Lucitt ’11 in Temescal Canyon.
“Hiking gives me a chance to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in. I feel that in Los Angeles, we don’t get to experience nature on a daily basis, so I like to put in the extra effort to go hiking and being in nature,” Lucitt said.
Mitchell Oei ’11, one of the club’s members, also appreciates the outdoor environment.
“When you’re on top of a snow top mountain, it is truly humbling,” he said.
Murdock, Osorio and Vega, however, are not the only Harvard-Westlake students who trek through Temescal Canyon.
After their last class of the day finishes, Adam Bailey ’11 and Riley Guerin ’11 throw their backpacks into the back seat of their cars, secure their bikes in their trunk and set out for an afternoon adventure.
“The most fun I’ve had in the mountains has been jumping 80 foot cliffs on the Kaweah River in the Southern Sierras,” Bailey said.
Some of their activities include mountain biking up Kenter Canyon Road, rock climbing in Malibu, ocean fishing off Dockweiler and hiking in Temescal Canyon or the Highlands at least once a week.
“At the end of last year, we were going at least four times a week,” Guerin said.
Being in nature is not a new hobby for Guerin.
“I used to work on a ranch in Park City, Utah, riding horses throughout the mountains,” Guerin said.
This summer, Bailey and Guerin took three of their classmates, Josh Lerner ’11, Max Olshansky ’11 and Nicolai Sisteron ’11 backpacking through the Sierra Nevadas for three nights and four days.
“One night, the skies opened up on us,” Guerin said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t realize until that moment that our tents weren’t water proof.”